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Iran Tells UN It Opposes US Strikes on Iraq - 2002-09-15

Iran has joined its Arab neighbors in opposing a U.S. military strike on Iraq, calling on Baghdad to let U.N. weapons inspectors back in. Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi addressed the U.N. General Assembly Sunday.

Iran, back in 1981, was a victim of Iraqi aggression, which led to a long war of attrition between the two countries. Back then, Iran complained the U.N. Security Council was biased in favor of Iraq, as resolution after resolution refused to name Iraq the aggressor.

But that was then. Today, Iran is calling for respect for Iraq's territorial integrity and letting the United Nations take the lead in resolving the current crisis over weapons inspections. In remarks to the General Assembly, Iranian foreign minister Kharrazi, speaking through an interpreter, also made clear Teheran opposes U.S. threats to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"We are against any unilateral measure or military intervention in Iraq, underline the central role of the United Nations in this regard, and hold that it is up to the people of Iraq to determine their own future through democratic means," he said.

The United States hopes the Security Council this week will start crafting new resolutions that would set a tight deadline for Iraq to comply with previous disarmament demands.

President Bush has accused Iraq of rebuilding weapons of mass destruction, a charge denied in Baghdad, and says the United States is prepared to take military action on its own, if necessary.